Remembering George Floyd: Too many still can't breathe

Remembering George Floyd: Too many still can't breathe
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We remember the first time we saw the video. 

We remember watching helplessly as now convicted murderer, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, choking the life out of a 46-year-old Black man in the street as Chauvin’s fellow officers did nothing to stop it. 

We remember the frustration and deep sense of despair we felt that — after the deaths of Walter Scott, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and so many others — we were watching it happen again.

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We all remember hearing George Floyd’s plea, “I can’t breathe.”

We couldn’t breathe, either. We still can’t. That’s true for those of us who, like Floyd, are Black and those who aren’t. It’s true for Americans of all races as we stand united in our devastation at the Black lives lost at the hands of police.

Today marks one year since Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd. But after all the outrage, the demonstrations, the promises for reform, and the guilty verdict in Chauvin’s trial, we believe that little progress truly has been made.

You have to wonder, what is it going to take?

As a Black, 36-year-old South Carolinian and a white, 37-year-old New York City woman with drastically different American experiences, we both regularly wonder what it will take to achieve the meaningful change that politicians and pundits like to talk about. 

If video of a police officer suffocating a man doesn’t convince you to ban such chokeholds, then what will?

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If a 26-year-old medical worker gunned down in her living room won’t convince you to get rid of “no-knock” warrants, then what will?

If the past year hasn’t convinced us to reform qualified immunity and take action against police militarization, then what will it take?

How long will we have to wait until elected officials such as Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBooker: End of police reform negotiations a 'frustrating experience' Sunday shows - All eyes on spending votes Tim Scott says police reform talks collapsed with Dems over funding MORE (R-S.C.), the Senate's only Black Republican, realize that doing what’s right matters more than their political prospects?

How long will Black parents have to teach their kids how to survive traffic stops? 

There are countless other questions related to this issue that we could ask. The reality is that it feels more and more like fantasy that we will ever get decent answers. Momentum for reform appears to be waning.

Support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has fallen and trust in law enforcement has increased. Last June, just 56 percent of Americans thought local police and law enforcement promoted justice and equal treatment of all races. Today that number has grown to 69 percent. 

The most precipitous fall in support for BLM is among white Americans. While there never has been majority support for the movement among whites, it did peak at 43 percent support in June after Floyd’s murder. Support is now back to where it was before the summer of protests, at 37 percent for whites, while it still hovers at around 80 percent support among Blacks. The biggest drop came from older Americans, men, and Republicans. 

In terms of police reform, Americans are all over the map. While they consistently oppose the idea of “defunding the police,” over half also oppose redirecting police budgets to social services. And as discussed above, Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on a unified stance when it comes to banning chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and qualified immunity, which means a bipartisan bill in Congress is either dead in the water or unlikely to bring about real change.

It follows that even though last month’s guilty verdict in Chauvin’s trial felt like a watershed event, the reality is substantially different.

The work for racial justice and real equality in America continues. And on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death we are thinking not only about his life, but about all that needs to be done in order to properly honor it.

We remain unsatisfied because the Chauvin verdict became a reality only because a teenager had the courage to pull out her smartphone and hit record while Floyd suffered on the pavement.

We’re not satisfied because Black men and women are still dying at the hands of police officers.

We’re not satisfied because accountability is not the same as justice.

We’re not satisfied because too many still can’t breathe. 

Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, a CBS News political contributor, and a senior visiting fellow at Third Way. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.

Jessica Tarlov is head of research at Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News contributor. She earned her Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in political science. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaTarlov.